“Where were you?” was the beginning of an email sent to me from a friend in Pennsylvania. He was, of course, referring to “where were you on 9/11?” I guess that is a question many people can answer. Significant events in history have a way of being indelibly written in our minds. I am old enough to have several such events that I remember.
I remember where I was when we celebrated the end of World War II.
I remember where I was when I heard President Kennedy had been shot.
I remember where I was when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
And yes, I can remember where I was when the events of 9/11 took place.
Where were you on 9/11?
My friend from Pennsylvania shared where he was. “On the 9-11-01 date, I was fishing with a friend on the Shenango Reservoir when my wife called and told me to get off the lake. The Army Corps of Engineers roared up to us and yelled to get off the lake. We complied and read chillingly later that the plane bound for Washington D.C. went overhead on its way to its final destination nearby.”
With all that in mind, let’s look at the call to remember.
THE BIBLES CALL TO REMEMBER
There are many admonitions, even commands, in the Bible to remember certain things, certain events even to the point of memorializing them. Let’s look at a couple of them; one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
MEMORIAL STONES AT THE JORDAN RIVER
The children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land as they crossed the River Jordan. By the miracle of the waters being stopped, the children of Israel passed over on dry ground as the Priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stood in the middle of the Jordan.
Joshua commanded twelve stones from the Jordan be taken, and these stones were set up in Gilgal. The purpose of this was for the next generation “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever'” (Joshua 4:21-24, NKJV).
Note that the reason for the memorial is to tell the subsequent generations what had happened at the Jordan River.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 gives instruction on how to share in communion, the Lord’s Supper. He makes reference to what Jesus had done and said when He first instituted it with His disciples in the Upper Room. Paul refers both to the bread which symbolized His body and the wine which symbolized His blood, quoting Jesus saying, “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
So communion is to be a memorial which can be a very meaningful exercise. We look back into the past to the cross when His body and blood were given for us. We stop and look at the present and take time to examine ourselves. Finally, we look to the future to anticipate His coming again. This is something we too must teach the next generation.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Now to anyone younger than approximately 25 years old, 9/11 is distant history. Some know little or nothing about what happened.
John Stonestreet, in his Breakpoint Daily, has an article on “Teaching 9/11 to the Emerging Generation.” He makes reference to a video special, “9/11 A Drive Through History Special,” from Drive Through History. Stonestreet quotes part of a segment from the video.
“The September 11 strikes against America, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic group al-Qaeda. Four passenger airliners that had departed from airports in the northeastern United States were hijacked by 19 Islamic terrorists. Two of the planes were crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third plane was crashed into the U.S. Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane heading towards Washington D. C. crashed into a Pennsylvania field after the passengers fought back against their hijackers.
According to scholars, 9/11 ended up being the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history. There were 2,977 killed, over 25,000 injured, and more than $10 billion dollars in property damage. It was also the single deadliest incident for U.S. emergency personnel, with 343 firefighters and 72 police officers killed that day in the tragic aftermath of 9/11.
It took 99 days for the New York City Fire Department to finally extinguish the smoldering fires at the World Trade Center complex. Then, it took another 160 days to finally declare the cleanup and recovery operation over. In the end, about two million tons of tangled steel and rubble were removed from the site” (colsoncenter.libsyn.com).
Stonestreet also included this reflection from the video, “Indeed, 9/11 was tragic, but I’ve never seen such American patriotism, unity, and resolve. While the country processed its grief, it also came together across religious, political, and ethnic divides. We were all just Americans.
September 11 is a day to remember an attack on our homeland, an attack on our freedom, an attack on our very worldview. It’s also a day to remember our fallen Americans and our selfless heroes. It’s a day to remind the new generation to stay vigilant in defending our country, our liberty, and our way of life.
Once a year, on the anniversary of 9/11, a special tribute in light fills the Manhattan skyline. Two massive beams of light stretch toward the heavens symbolizing the fallen twin towers. It’s a profound way to remember the day we will never forget” (colsoncenter.libsyn.com).
WHERE WAS GOD ON 9/11?
We may all well know where we were on 9/11, but where was God in it all? It is not the purpose of this Langstaff Letter to fully answer that question. I would simply refer you to a book by Jonathan Cahn, called “The Harbinger.” It is a fascinating book that gives spiritual insight into what was happening at that time, including references to things said by politicians that line up with scriptural messages. Also it spells out what God was doing.
MY OWN REFLECTION
Not long after 9/11, I was ministering in New York City and had the opportunity to visit the site of 9/11 where the Two Towers fell down and also the surrounding area. This included the nearby historic church, which was not destroyed. The church fence still had messages from people grieving loved ones who were gone. It was a sobering moment, a time to reflect on such an event as 9/11.
Likewise, when I was ministering in San Antonia, Texas, I was amazed at the many American flags flying or being displayed. After 9/11, churches were often full, unity was evident across the nation, and patriotism bloomed. Sadly, it did not last as the nation went back to business as usual. We are no longer united, patriotism is contested, and as a Nation, we never recognized what God was saying through it all. Consequently, revival never came. As a nation, we deserve judgment, but we cry out for mercy.
Nevertheless, we also need to convey to the new generation that does not particularly remember 9/11 what it was all about, lest it happens again.
A FINAL WORD FROM A 20-YEAR-OLD
My granddaughter Hayley Plaisted, who types this Langstaff Letter, had some additional thoughts to share, starting with the poem (Author Unknown) “Meet Me in the Stairwell” a picture about God speaking about 9/11.
You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.
I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’ I
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK..I am ready to go.’
I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn’t coming home that night.
I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said.
Of course I will show you the way home – only
believe in Me now.’
I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
heard my voice and answered.
I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.
I was in Texas, Virginia, California, Michigan, Afghanistan .
I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?
I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name – though not all know Me. Some met Me
for the first time on the 86th floor.
Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take
my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.
I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
reached for Me?
Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you. But someday your journey will end. And I
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
‘ready to go.’
I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.
Hayley went on to add some of her own comments, “We should remember the countless people who were killed that day. We should remember the fearless passengers of flight 93 who choose to sacrifice their lives to save others. We should remember why our nation was attacked on 9/11 and why it is important to keeping fighting for the values and standards this country was founded on. I believe people need to be reminded not only to remember the events of 9/11 but also what it is they are remembering. I am blessed to come from a family that takes the time to remember the tragedy of 9/11 every year.”